A functional interaction between progesterone, Th2 cytokines and a suitable balance between nitric oxide and prostaglandins in the uterus is considered to have a major role in the success of embryo implantation and pregnancy. Non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice offer a suitable model to study the modulatory role of Th1 cytokines on uterus signalling and function, since at the prediabetic stage they develop a spontaneous Th1 autoimmune response against exocrine glands similar to Sjögren’s syndrome. Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) is a vasoactive neuro- and immunopeptide that promotes Th2 profiles and contributes to the smooth muscle relaxation and vasodilation. The aim of the present study was to investigate the activities of nitric oxide synthase and cyclo-oxygenase and the effect of VIP in the uterus of NOD mice with an emerging Th1 cytokine response. We present evidence of a reduced basal and VIP-stimulated activity of both enzymes in the uterus of NOD mice compared with normal BALB/c mice in proestrus. An altered functional interaction between both enzymes is also present in NOD mice at the time when increased levels of serum interleukin (IL)-12 and tumour necrosis factor-α but not interferon (IFN)-γ or IL-10 were detected. We conclude that signalling alterations in uteri of NOD mice are simultaneous to the onset of a systemic Th1 cytokine response.
Valeria Roca, Luciana Larocca, Mario Calafat, Julieta Aisemberg, Roberto Meiss, Ana M Franchi and Claudia Pérez Leirós
María Victoria Bariani, Ana Paula Domínguez Rubio, Maximiliano Cella, Juliana Burdet, Ana María Franchi and Julieta Aisemberg
Prematurity is the leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality worldwide. There is a strong causal relationship between infection and preterm births. Intrauterine infection elicits an immune response involving the release of inflammatory mediators like cytokines and prostaglandins (PG) that trigger uterine contractions and parturition events. Anandamide (AEA) is an endogenous ligand for the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. Similarly to PG, endocannabinoids are implicated in different aspects of reproduction, such as maintenance of pregnancy and parturition. Little is known about the involvement of endocannabinoids on the onset of labor in an infectious milieu. Here, using a mouse model of preterm labor induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS), we explored changes on the expression of components of endocannabinoid system (ECS). We have also determined whether AEA and CB antagonists alter PG production that induces labor. We observed an increase in uterine N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine-specific phospholipase D expression (NAPE-PLD, the enzyme that synthesizes AEA) upon LPS treatment. Activity of catabolic enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) did not change significantly. In addition, we also found that LPS modulated uterine cannabinoid receptors expression by downregulating Cb2 mRNA levels and upregulating CB1 protein expression. Furthermore, LPS and AEA induced PGF2a augmentation, and this was reversed by antagonizing CB1 receptor. Collectively, our results suggest that ECS may be involved in the mechanism by which infection causes preterm birth.
Julieta Aisemberg, María V Bariani, Claudia A Vercelli, Manuel L Wolfson and Ana M Franchi
The initial inactivation of prostaglandins (PGs) is mediated by 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH). PGs are potent mediators of several biological processes, including inflammation and reproduction. In uterus, PGs play a key role in infection-induced pregnancy loss, in which concentration of this mediator increased. This process is accompanied with the induction of nitric oxide synthase expression and a marked increase in uterine levels of nitric oxide. There is no information concerning nitric oxide contribution to potential changes in PG catabolism, but experimental evidence suggests that nitric oxide modulates PG pathways. The specific objectives of the study were to evaluate the protein expression of HPGD (15-PGDH) and to characterize the nitric oxide-dependent regulation of this enzyme in a model of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced embryonic resorption. Results show that LPS decreased HPGD protein expression and augmented PGE synthase activity; therefore, PGE2 levels increased in uterus in this inflammatory condition. Just as LPS, the treatment with a nitric oxide donor diminished HPGD protein expression in uterine tissue. In contrast, the inhibition of nitric oxide synthesis both in control and in LPS-treated mice increased 15-PGDH levels. Also, we have found that this enzyme and PGE2 levels are not modulated by peroxynitrite, an oxidant agent derived from nitric oxide. This study suggests that LPS and nitric oxide promote a decrease in the ability of the uterus for PG catabolism during bacterially triggered pregnancy loss in mice.
Fernando Correa, Manuel L Wolfson, Paula Valchi, Julieta Aisemberg and Ana María Franchi
The endocannabinoid system (eCS), is a complex system, comprising the main endogenous ligands anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol, the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 and the biosynthetic and degrading enzymes. Cumulative evidence shows that the eCS plays an important role in reproduction, from egg fertilization to parturition. Therefore, alterations in this system, either by recreation/therapeutic use of cannabis or deregulation of the endogenous cannabinoids, might lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes, including retardation in embryo development, poor blastocyst implantation, inhibition of decidualization, miscarriage and compromised placentation. Nevertheless, the molecular mechanisms by which the eCS participates in different stages of pregnancy remain poorly understood. In this review, we will examine the evidence from animal and human studies to support the role of the eCS in implantation, early-to-late pregnancy and placentation as well as the difficulties of targeting this system for treatment of female infertility.
Julieta Aylen Schander, Julieta Aisemberg, Fernando Correa, Manuel Luis Wolfson, Lorena Juriol, Cora Cymeryng, Federico Jensen and Ana María Franchi
Maternal lifestyle affects both mother health and pregnancy outcome in humans. Several studies have demonstrated that interventions oriented toward reducing stress and anxiety have positive effects on pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, excessive gestational weight, gestational diabetes and preterm birth. In this work, we showed that the environmental enrichment (EE), defined as a noninvasive and biologically significant stimulus of the sensory pathway combined with voluntary physical activity, prevented preterm birth (PTB) rate by 40% in an inflammatory mouse model induced by the systemic administration of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Furthermore, we found that EE modulates maternal metabolism and produces an anti-inflammatory environment that contributes to pregnancy maintenance. In pregnant mice uterus, EE reduces the expression of TLR4 and CD14 (the LPS receptor and its coactivator protein), preventing the LPS-induced increase in PGE2 and PGF2α release and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity. In cervical tissue, EE inhibits cervical ripening events, such as PGE2 release, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 increased activity and neutrophil recruitment, therefore conserving cervical function. It seems that EE exposure could mimic the stress and anxiety-reducing techniques mentioned above, explaining, at least partially, the beneficial effects of having a healthy lifestyle before and during gestation. Furthermore, we propose that designing an EE protocol for humans could be a noninvasive and preventive therapy for pregnancy complications, averting pre-term birth occurrence and dreaded sequelae that are present in the offspring born too soon.